What is the best salmon fly to use? This is a question many anglers ask themselves every time they go salmon fishing. Indeed, most of us ask this question a number of times throughout the course of a day when fishing, especially if the fish are proving to be in a stubborn mood. Many anglers will choose a fly and then if conditions do not change, persist it with it for the entire day, while others will change there fly each hour or before fishing a different pool. When it comes to changing flies, it is probably better to stick to a happy medium which is somewhere between both these extremes.
When it comes to changing flies much depends on the conditions and the time of year. If for example you are fishing during the early spring months often fresh salmon are few and far between. Early season springers are quite aggressive by nature and will readily take a fly. In such circumstances it is much better to consider the depth at which the fly is fishing rather than the fly pattern itself. Usually at this time of year the water temperature is low, and fish lie close to the riverbed. So, it is therefore important that the fly moves through the water column at an adequate depth. Instead of changing the fly pattern regularly, it could be more pertinent to either change your line through the course of the day or even the weight or the size of the fly.
During the late spring and through the summer months, there are usually more fish in the pools. At this time of year, the salmon can be more difficult to tempt. In such conditions, if you know that you are covering fish on a regular basis without success, making subtle changes in your fly pattern may be the way forward.
Most anglers change a fly because they want to change the pattern that they are using. However, it is also important to consider the size and weight of the fly. Can a salmon really tell the subtle differences between a Park Shrimp and a Cascade? Well we will never know the answer to that question, but it is probably unlikely. Instead, a change in the size, style or weight of the fly may make more of a difference than subtle changes in colour.
It is important to have a logical explanation in your head about why you are changing the fly before you do it. If you don’t, you can end up spending more time changing the fly than actually fishing. As one old very wise angler told me once, the best fly to use is the one that is in the water the longest!